NanoRacks-Protein Crystal Growth-1 (NanoRacks-PCG-1) - 11.22.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
NanoRacks-Protein Crystal Growth-1 (NanoRacks-PCG-1) is a proprietary protein crystal growth experiment that utilizes state-of-the-art on-the-ground PCG procedures and hardware.
Science Results for Everyone
These cards deal scientists a winning hand. CrystalCards, an off-the-shelf, state-of-the-art system for growing protein crystals in microgravity, grew more crystals aboard the International Space Station (ISS) versus on the ground and produced more high-quality crystals as well. The small slides solve containment issues and crystals can be retrieved or analyzed while still in the card. Planned enhancements include active temperature control and automated documentation, which will help researchers create useful structural models using protein crystals grown in microgravity. Future research is needed to ensure that this enhanced protein crystal growth technology consistently produces better crystals and good yield in space.

The following content was provided by Carl W. Carruthers, Jr., Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-19

Principal Investigator(s)
Carl W. Carruthers, Jr., Ph.D., NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Information Pending

Developer(s)
NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2012 - September 2013

Expeditions Assigned
33/34,35/36

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Protein Crystal Growth-1 (NanoRacks-PCG-1) utilizes different Protein Crystal Growth solutions in small crystal slides to grow protein crystals in microgravity.
  • The slides are launched frozen, thawed on orbit to allow crystal growth, examined while on-orbit and then returned.

Description
NanoRacks-Protein Crystal Growth-1 (NanoRacks-PCG-1) is a proprietary protein crystal growth experiment that utilizes state-of-the-art on-the-ground PCG procedures and hardware.  NanoRacks-PCG-1 uses different PCG solutions in small crystal slides to grow protein crystals in microgravity. The slides are launched frozen, thawed on orbit to allow crystal growth, examined while on-orbit and then returned.

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Applications

Space Applications
The applications of this investigation are proprietary.

Earth Applications
The applications of this investigation are proprietary.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

The protein growth in the Crystal Plates automatically initiates on-orbit when the Plates thaw. At least one analysis session with the Crystal Plates and the NanoRacks Microscope-2 facility is conducted to collect data on crystal growth.  After the session is completed, the Crystal Plates are re-stowed.


NanoRacks Module-19 is soft-stowed in a Glacier at -95°C.  Crew removes the module from Glacier and places it inside NanoRacks Platform-1.  Thaw and crystal growth occur without crew interaction.  The crew observes crystal growth status on the slides.  

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

The goal of this investigation is to grow protein crystals in space using a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) high throughput method. Twenty five (25) CrystalCards™ are sent to the International Space Station (ISS), containing approximately 10,000 individual microgravity protein crystal growth (PCG) experiments housed in a 3U (10X15X20 cm) NanoRacks NanoLab™ - small cube modules that house science experiment on ISS. After 70 days on the ISS, returned cards show 16 of 25 (64%) having crystals, compared to 12 of 25 (48%) of the ground controls. Encouragingly, there are more crystals of apohPPAR-γ LBD (a protein which regulates glucose metabolism and production of fat cells) in the microgravity PCG cards than the ground controls cards. The experiment uses only a small quantity of seed protein of apohPPAR-γ LBD, as well as several PCG standards, to test hundreds of microgravity crystal growth conditions. Using CrystalCards™ also alleviates fluid containment difficulties with typical microgravity PCG experiments and the required layers of biohazard safety restriction on ISS. In addition, retrieval of crystals is easily performed by removing the card seal, or if the analyst desires, X-ray diffraction tests can be performed while the crystal stays in the card. With planned enhancements such as active temperature control and automated documentation systems, this method may provide new opportunities for researchers to use microgravity protein crystal growth as a tool for creating improved or novel models. Future research is needed to ensure that microfluidic devices like CrystalCards™ can consistently produce better crystals and good yield in microgravity, or even possibly enhance PCG technology.

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Results Publications

    Carruthers, Jr. CW, Gerdts C, Johnson MD, Webb P.  A microfluidic, high throughput protein crystal growth method for microgravity. PLOS ONE. 2013 November 21; 8(11): e82298. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082298. PMID: 24278480.

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

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Related Websites
NanoRacks

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Imagery

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Lysozyme (above) and Thermolysin (below) crystals grown in microgravity on the ISS. In collaboration with Carl Carruthers at Houston Methodist Research Institute, NanoRacks developed a new method of growing microgravity protein crystals, allowing researchers the possibility to grow more crystals with very little protein. Image courtesy of Carl Carruthers.

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NanoRacks-Protein Crystal Growth-1 (NanoRacks-PCG-1) is a proprietary protein crystal growth housed inside NanoRacks Module-19.  Image courtesy of Carl W. Carruthers, Jr.


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